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News diary 20-26 May: Voters go to polls in European Parliament elections and Worboys case heard at court

Foresight News provides a look-ahead to the key events that need to be in your news diary for next week… 

As Theresa May’s time leading the Conservatives draws to a close and with the party facing an existential threat from Nigel Farage’s upstart party, the jostling from colleagues seeking to replace her becomes more pronounced with each passing week.

On Monday, Dominic Raab and Liz Truss participate in a panel event hosted by the Telegraph where the future of the Tory party is the convenient topic for the enthusiastic leadership contenders who have both had some thoughts on the issue. The event also features youthful health secretary Matt Hancock, along with James Cleverly and Victoria Atkins, two of the party’s 2015 intake who have made rapid rises to the frontbenches.

The 72nd World Health Assembly, the annual meeting for members of the World Health Organization, begins in Switzerland. Top of the agenda is the “out of control” outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has been exacerbated by conflict and has seen the fastest growth of incidences over the last month since the outbreak began last year.

Delegates are also expected to discuss vaccine confidence following the recent surge of “anti-vax” advocates in Western countries.

President Donald Trump heads to Pennsylvania, a key state in his campaign for re-election, for a “Make America Great Again” rally which comes after Pennsylvania native Joe Biden entered the race to unseat Trump in 2020.

Early polling shows Biden currently enjoys more support than the president among Keystone State voters, and Trump is unlikely to miss an opportunity for some point scoring on the former Vice President’s home turf.

Mark Carney appears before MPs on the Treasury Committee on Tuesday to discuss the Bank of England’s latest inflation report, which was accompanied by a warning from the Governor that interest rates will have to increase after Brexit to prevent rising prices and other imbalances in the economy.

Carney, now officially in the autumn of his tenure at the Bank, has previously clashed with committee members over his Brexit forecasts and can expect another grilling from his bespectacled bête noire in today’s session.

The OECD releases its Economic Outlook, a biannual analysis of trends and prospects in member nations and other major economies for the coming two years. The report includes forecasts for employment, inflation and GDP, and last December’s edition predicted muted growth in the UK into 2020 due to Brexit-related uncertainties over trading arrangements.

The ONS publishes annual estimates of regional gross disposable household income for 2017 on Wednesday, which are based on an approximation of households’ take-home pay across the UK. Nottingham had the lowest levels of disposable income in the 2016 figures, reaching an average of £12,232 per household, in stark contrast with London’s Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham, which had an average of £58,816.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton delivers a commencement address to this year’s graduating students from the US Coast Guard Academy amid a reported disagreement with President Trump over Bolton’s aggressive stance on Iran.

Trump, who has been a fierce critic of the Iranian regime, is believed to prefer a diplomatic solution to the ongoing tensions between the two nations over military action.

Last week, the State Department ordered that all non-essential personnel leave the US missions in Baghdad and Erbil following reports of potential threats to US diplomatic facilities, and Bolton’s speech should be closely watched for any indications of Washington’s next move.

UK voters are among those casting ballots on the first day of the European Parliament elections on Thursday, and voting continues across the bloc until 26 May. The outcome of the elections is likely to be a more eurosceptic parliament, with populist parties expected to continue recent gains seen in national elections across the continent.

European leaders will hold a special summit on 28 May to discuss the results, and focus there will quickly turn to negotiations over who will become the next President of the European Commission. German Manfred Weber, leader of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament, is the frontrunner among the Spitzenkandidat seeking to replace Jean-Claude Juncker.

Jeremy Corbyn is the keynote speaker on the final day of the PCS union conference, and the Labour leader may welcome an opportunity to focus on policy and avoid the B-word.

Labour’s headline-grabbing announcement on its plans to take the national grid back into public ownership suggest the party is gearing up for an election campaign, and Corbyn should enjoy a receptive audience in Brighton after winning the backing of the union this time last year.

A private prosecution of Conservative leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson for alleged misconduct in public office returns to court for a public hearing. Marcus Ball accuses Johnson of intentionally misleading the public while serving as Mayor of London and as an MP for his statements on how much the UK spends on EU membership, which became a divisive and influential sticking point in the referendum.

The same court hears the case of John Worboys, now known as John Radford, who faces fresh charges after a public campaign to prevent his release last year.

Following similar protests in February and March, school students across the world go on a mass strike on Friday to protest against climate change.

The strike, organised by the Youth Strike for Climate Group and supported by Extinction Rebellion, comes amid a global movement to try to force governments and businesses across the world to take drastic action on climate change. Organisers said the last strike in March attracted more than 1.6 million students in 125 countries.

The Independent Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the international body which acts as an arbiter in maritime disputes, is due to deliver a ruling on Saturday in a case concerning the detention of three Ukrainian vessels by the Russian forces in the Kerch Strait last November.

The Russian coast guard, with the backing of warplanes and helicopters, fired on the ships and eventually blocked access to the Sea of Azov off Crimea, where the Ukrainian sailors are still being detained. The incident prompted the US, Canada and the EU to impose sanctions on Russian businesses.

The Cannes film festival closes with the presentation of the Palme d’Or Award. The prize has been shrouded in controversy over the last few years, as the prize has been awarded to 71 male directors but only two women.

The honorary Palme d’Or has also had its fair share of controversy, after being awarded to French actor Alain Delon, who has been accused of violence towards women, aired “incendiary” views about women and gay couples, and voiced support for far-right Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Results from European elections in the UK should start to filter through after the close of polling elsewhere on Sunday night, with key seats to look out for including the South West region (Ann Widdecombe, Andrew Adonis, and Rachel Johnson stand), the East Midlands (Annunziata Rees-Mogg) and the South East (Nigel Farage).

Recent polling shows that the Brexit Party are on course to receive the lions’ share of support at the ballot box, with the Conservatives forecast to pull in less than 15% of the electorate’s support.

The highlight of a busy sporting weekend sees the Formula One season continuing with the Monaco Grand Prix. Traditionally seen as the most prestigious race in the calendar, last year’s chequered flag was taken by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. Current championship leader Lewis Hamilton is looking to break his three-year winless streak on the famous street circuit.

In Paris the second grand slam tennis tournament of the year gets underway at Roland Garros. Spain’s Rafael Nadal is aiming to win his 12th French Open title, an accolade which would move him to within two of Roger Federer’s 20 career grand slam wins. British title hopes likely rest with Johanna Konta after the world number 42 recently reached the final of the Morocco Open.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Toby Melville

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